Pope Francis visited the Community of Sant'Egidio on Sunday 15 June at a meeting dedicated essentially to the poor, who are "at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus" and constitute a fundamental commitment of the Community as friendship as service.
The pope arrived at Trastevere accompanied by prof. Andrea Riccardi. He walked through Santa Maria in Trastevere Square meeting the faithful and listening to their greetings. In the Basilica he payed tribute to the icon of Our Lady of Mercy, the oldest existing wooden image of Mary in Rome; then he listened to significant testimonies and addressed a speech to the faithful. Then, there was a moment of prayer.
After leaving the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Pope Francis walked to the headquarters of the Community at Sant'Egidio Square, where he met the people responsible for the Community, some bishops, priests and seminarians, the sick and other groups of people.
In the Community of Sant'Egidio the service to the poor has been present from the beginning and has diversified over the years to meet the new requirements that gradually arose: Schools of Peace, the homeless, the migrants, the "new Europeans", the refugees, the Roma and Sinti, the disabled, the elderly living alone. In Rome - as in all Sant’Egidio communities in the world - the poor are at the centre of our care and listening, and are true family members of the Community. The Christmas Lunch with the poor is an initiative that every year involves tens of thousands of people in the world. With these encounters, Francis Pope had firsthand experience of these situations in his visit to the Community of Sant'Egidio.